Exposure to Family Violence Hurts Childrenís Health
Family violence is a health issue for both the victim and for the children who are exposed to the violence indirectly. The Public Health Unitís Family Violence Prevention Project is aimed at raising awareness about the issue of family violence, and the ill effects that it has on children. The Project is funded through the Early Childhood Development fund and will help families make positive, healthy choices on behalf of their children.
Children who are exposed to an abusive relationship between their parents or other caregivers feel scared, helpless and unsafe. Some children suffer post traumatic stress syndrome, similar to those experiencing war. Even infants are affected by abuse in their home. They have no language and therefore cannot talk about it, but the emotional reaction is encoded. These children are more likely to go from being calm and peaceful to a state of rage in a flash. These experiences are not easy to overcome.
Babies who live in situations of violence are at higher risk for failing to thrive and meet milestones. They are more likely to be listless, and have disruptions in their eating and sleeping routines. They also have more difficulty with trust and attachment to the important people in their lives.
Older children may find it harder to control their anger and get along with others. They are at higher risk of having low self-esteem and experiencing depression. They may have trouble learning and have difficulties at school. They are also more likely to be violent or to be involved in violent relationships when they are older.
It is important to know that not all children who are exposed to family violence will respond the same way. Children, however, who have a strong relationship with a competent, caring, positive parent, who have the benefits of community safe havens and a certain personal resiliency, are more able to overcome a traumatic childhood.
As families struggle with the issue of abuse, it is important to know that there is help available. Indeed, patterns of abuse or violence rarely stop without outside help. There are services in Grey-Bruce, like emergency shelters, counselling, and support programs for women, children and men. Other services that can help with housing, finances and legal issues are also available. If you are experiencing violence, you are not alone. There are local people and services available to help you and those you love. For more information call Public Health Unit at 376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456, visit the public health web site at www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca
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